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Are Waverley’s eastern​ villages under siege​?​ From up, down, and all-around​?

Bulldozers on the ground – a rising number of Gatwick planes proposed overhead, and now oil exploration giants queueing up to go underground in the search for oil and gas in Alfold and Dunsfold.

However,  it is Government policy to encourage oil and gas exploration in the UK.

 MP and wannabe PM Jeremy Hunt has already said he is keeping his options open – and is talking to his mates in the oil and gas industry who live near him in Dunsfold & Chiddingfold before he makes his mind up. 

WW wonders if he has talked to the largest concentration of gipsies who live adjacent to the drilling site or other villagers who could be affected? Or don’t they matter?

Certainly ‘Your New Waverley’ Is taking the matter very seriously and is setting up a Listening Exercise – so that everyone can make their views known. We will post on the details of this later.

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UKOG – UK Oil & Gas PLC  https://www.ukogplc.com  

UKOG – UK Oil & Gas is just one of the companies intent of finding fuel in Dunsfold – and elsewhere in the Waverley Borough. Conoco has already found gas in nearby Alfold and villagers heard this week that IGas Energy also wants to join the party. drilling company seeks to explore for oil and gas near Surrey village of Dunsfold 

Roll up – roll-up. Exploration to the east of Dunsfold and now to the north of Dunsfold. However, we believe, the owners of Dunsfold aerodrome, under whose land the deposits lay, has refused requests to drill there. 

Here is some information prepared by Cranleigh resident and retired geologist Chris Bulley helpfully provided through The Cranleigh Society to assist residents to navigate their way through the oil and gas fields.

Surrey County Council – SCC Ref 2019/0072 (https://planning.surreycc.gov.uk/planappdisp.aspx?AppNo=SCC+Ref+2019%2f0072)

Waverley Borough Council WA/2019/0796 Is for the Loxley Well site South of Dunsfold Rd and east of High Loxley Farm. 

Submitted 30/5/19; public consultation opened 11/6/19; public consultation ends 8/7/19; withdrawn late June subject to resubmission with revised access route.

However, Surrey County Council will take representations from the public later.

Drilling at Dunsfold – What is planned and Updates to application

UKOG  submitted a planning application to Surrey County Council (SCC) in May 2019 to drill a conventional gas appraisal well in the Dunsfold area. UKOG hoped the planning application would be decided before year-end.  The area is covered by Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence PEDL234 and operations are regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), a government agency, which reports to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS), where a company’s financial and operational competencies are checked.

In June, UKOG confirmed it would submit a revised application to SCC due to the need to pursue an alternative access route. The originally proposed access road might have impacted sites of reptile activity and of prehistoric activity, in an Area of High Archaeological Potential. UKOG has not put a timescale on when the application will be resubmitted.

The application covers a gas appraisal well on the eastern extension of the Godley Bridge structure, which has been previously drilled by Conoco with the Godley Bridge-1, Alfold-1 and Godley Bridge-2 wells in 1982/3, 1986 and 1986/7, respectively, (without incident). The map below (from UKOG’s November 2018 corporate presentation with annotation. https://www.ukogplc.com/ul/UKOG%20Corporate%20Presentation%20Nov%202018..pdfshows the location of these three wells with respect to the gross reservoir structure. The potential gas-bearing reservoir is the Portland Sandstone of uppermost Jurassic age, which is at a depth of around 2,800 feet (about 850 metres) below sea-level. The Portland Sandstone is a recognised oil/gas producing reservoir elsewhere in the Weald Basin such as at the Horse Hill discovery. The drilling plan for the appraisal well includes a deeper test of the underlying Kimmeridge section (a section of rocks found at Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, and running beneath the Weald), which UKOG considers lies within the largest untested Kimmeridge feature in the Weald Basin. The appraisal well will drill to a vertical depth of about 4,750 feet (nearly one mile) below the surface. It is planned that the appraisal pilot hole, horizontal sidetrack and testing programme can commence in late 2020 following further production drilling at Horse Hill near Gatwick.

There is no fracking planned within the proposed drilling programme and if UKOG was to consider it necessary a further planning application would be mandatory.

The well site would be a zero-discharge site with the whole area and adjacent drainage ditches covered by an impermeable membrane, a tried and tested process. Once the operations are complete: if the wells are considered commercially viable then a further application would be submitted to retain the site for longer-term production of hydrocarbons; otherwise, the site would be restored to its original use. The site itself is located upon Weald Clay, an impermeable rock.

The new well will appraise an accumulation that could contain a significant gross gas-in-place estimated at around 60 billion cubic feet, similar in size to a small North Sea field.

UKOG plan to long-term test any hydrocarbons encountered in the well in order to assess commercial viability in as short a time as possible.

Of additional interest, following the decision by DEFRA not to renew the lease at Bury Hill Wood for Europa Oil & Gas to drill the Holmwood well to beneath Coldharbour, UKOG has become an operator for the hydrocarbon licence (PEDL143) and is assessing other potential well sites for exploratory drilling. UKOG states that the locations under review fall outside the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

As of 4th July, IGas Energy PLC, the operator of the licence to the west of Dunsfold that covers the western half of the Godley Bridge structure (including wells Godley Bridge-1 and Godley Bridge-2) has announced that it plans to drill two exploration/appraisal wells on Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence PEDL235 to explore and evaluate the resource potential of both the Portland Sandstones and the Kimmeridge Micrites.

It will now move to submit a planning application but will undertake community consultation to take account of feedback from local residents before submitting the full planning application. This will take place on August 1 at the Winn Hall Dunsfold between 4p.m. and 8 p.m.

A spokesman for XR said: “It’s disappointing that UKOG is ignoring public opinion in Dunsfold and Surrey generally by pressing ahead with its application.

“Exploring new sources of oil makes no sense at all given the desperate need to reduce carbon emissions. XR groups across the county are already campaigning for Surrey County Council to refuse all oil drilling applications in the region.

“We encourage other people concerned about this to join us. We need to make sure all projects of this type are stopped or we will end up with oil wells spread across the whole region.”

During UKOG’s pre-application public consultation in February, many residents and campaigners voiced their concerns about the potential environmental impacts.

One resident said she felt the proposal is “a threat to human health and animal health” and another campaign group said the site would “industrialise our countryside, add to HGV movements in country lanes, and pose a pollution risk to our water, soil and air”.

In response to these concerns, UKOG released an information leaflet to “counteract the fiction being circulated by well known and ill-informed scaremongers”.

Chief executive, Stephen Sanderson, said: “We are not fracking. We do not want to and do not need to because the rock formations we’re targeting are naturally fractured by Mother Nature and can flow oil and gas sufficiently well on their own. This statement of fact is supported by our activities at Horse Hill near Gatwick Airport and at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst

“We are not looking for shale gas or shale oil as in the North of England. Our work uses only conventional oil field techniques as used in over 2,000 wells in the onshore UK and the three wells drilled in the Dunsfold area in the late 1980s. Our aim is to assess the commercial viability of the conventional gas and oil discovery made by these three 1980s wells.”

In his statement, Mr Sanderson said UKOG’s “primary objective” is to…

 “appraise the gas discovery made in the 1980s at Godley Bridge, which extends for about 10km and underlies Dunsfold Aerodrome”.

However, he dismissed claims that UKOG is causing earthquakes and said operations would not “industrialise Surrey or Sussex”, pollute the area or create “HGV chaos”.

The statement continues: “Our activities are designed to increase the UK’s energy security by reducing the increasing dependence on long-distance oil imports from places that often have less rigorous safety and environmental standards than the UK.

“Even if all vehicles become electric by 2030, we’ll still need to import 300-400,000 barrels of oil per day without increased UK onshore oil production.”

More to follow.

Mr Sanderson pledged to restore the site once activities have ceased, and share UKOG’s profits with the community if the well site is successful.

If permission is granted by Surrey County Council, UKOG hopes to begin work in late 2019 or early 2020.

The Weald Action Group has been contacted for comment.

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4 thoughts on “Are Waverley’s eastern​ villages under siege​?​ From up, down, and all-around​?

  1. Really would encourage people to register to speak at our listening panel. This is a bit of an experiment but we want to trial methods of public engagement on matters of clear local and public importance.

    Unfortunately I believe UKOG have declined the invitation to attend (our attempt at hearing both sides of the debate) but the event will still of course go ahead.

  2. The WW will be putting up a post on the Listening Exercise. Marvellous introduction. At last the public will have an opportunity to ask quetions and have a real say on such an important topic.
    Well done Waverley. The ears have it.

  3. There are people around here happily swallowing the UKOG side. If your readers want a really good explanation of what is going on they should go to this post from the excellent Brockham Oil Watch who have been following this for years and really know what they are talking about. https://brockhamoilwatch.org/2019/07/10/more-drilling-for-the-kimmeridge-oil-that-angus-energy-said-could-not-be-produced-without-fracking/

    We are newbies to this (who around here isn’t?) but we are doing our best so for the local take go to our Facebook page ‘Waverley Against Drilling’ and our supporting website http://www.waverleyagainstdrilling.co.uk.

    If UKOG 234 get permission for 3 years and then decide to throw in the towel (which seems likely if they haven’t already gone bust by then), the idea that UKOG 234 has the money to restore this site almost laughable. They are running thumping annual losses and they haven’t got any income. The only way they can raise any money is by selling the oil they find during exploration. So what if they don’t find any or don’t find much and decide to clear out and not go for production? Just at the point they need to restore they won’t have the money. Catch 22? Or perhaps SCC should try to get the landowner to pay for restoration…….

  4. We too are newibies to all this, but have been attempting to do a bit of research. Apparently Conoco moved onto a site in Alfold to drill for gas/oil many years ago – not sure where, but we believe it was near to Alfold School. According to a villager, there was a lot of fuss and noise from local people, but eventually Conoco moved in, did its stuff and moved out, almost unnoticed. We cannot determine whether it found anything, but we are sure someone will tell us?

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